By DAIRE WALSH
Kerry joint-manager Darragh Long said his players will be ‘ten foot tall’ after their stunning Lidl NFL Division 1 Final victory over Galway at Croke Park.
It was another step in the right direction for the Kingdom who were promoted from Division 2 last year before they reached a TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship decider.
After that 3-10 to 1-7 defeat to reigning champions Meath in that Final, Kerry have regrouped and become an even more clinical outfit.
They had already beaten Galway in the group stages but this result was a huge statement and Long’s side were ruthless in front of goal en route to their first Division 1 crown since 1991.
“A lot of effort has gone into this group for three-and-a-half, probably four-and-a-half years now. We’ve 10 or 12 of our minor group that we had initially when we started this journey,” said Long.
“A special feeling today, did anyone see that performance coming? Internally we always knew the girls were capable of really blowing a team away and dominating a game from the first minute to the last.
“We were first to the ball. The attitude and the effort was top class. To finish out after 30-odd years and get a Division 1 title back to Kerry is massive. We’re absolutely over the moon.
“What a Division 1 title is going to do for this group is going to make us ten foot tall. Probably be another target on our back going to championship in two weeks but we’ll enjoy the next few days.”
Galway had the best defensive record in Division 1 coming into this Final but they had shipped 3-11 in their recent defeat to Kerry.
Last year’s Division 2 champions took a 2-5 to 0-4 lead into half-time after goals from Niamh Ní Conchúir and Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh.
Ní Conchúir doubled her tally in the second half while Hannah O’Donoghue and captain Siofra O’Shea also found the net and Kerry secured their 12th Lidl NFL Division 1 crown.
And for Galway manager Maghnus Breathnach he knew his side had come up against a juggernaut in full flow.
“We got off to a decent start but I’d say we gave Kerry 2-2 from turnovers. To go in seven points down at half-time, it’s a large lead. When you’re chasing a game then there’s more gaps for the opposition and in fairness to Kerry, they’re a very, very serious outfit going forward,” said Breathnach.
“They’re a very physical team and they’re a quick team as well. Kerry have been up here now four times in the last 12 months and this is Galway’s first time since 2020. They have their routine down to a tee there and they’re well capable of dealing with the expectation of playing matches up here in Croke Park.
“In terms of us, we probably looked nervous there at stages in the first half while Kerry were in their full flow.”Tweet